Marina Go on publishing’s diversity problem: ‘I look back and it just hasn’t changed’

The media suffers from a lack of diverse thinking and recycles the same ‘blokes’ over and over again, company director and author Marina Go has told an audience of publishers.

“It’s not just women, it’s diversity,” Go told the audience during a session on leadership at Mumbrella’s Publish conference on Thursday. “The problem with media is diverse thinking, so there’s a lot of recycling of the same dare I say ‘blokes’. I sit outside the media and I look back and it just hasn’t changed. So that’s the challenge.”

Company director and author Marina Go, Storyation co-founder Lauren Quaintance, Pacific Magazines CEO Gereurd Roberts and Isentia CEO Ed Harrison

“I think it’s at the very top that there’s a problem,” continued Go. “There’s always been great women in the middle, great women coming through – in fact, if you look at the pyramid the bottom is always full of women – it’s just getting the women to the top that’s the problem.”

Go was joined on the panel by Storyation co-founder Lauren Quaintance, Pacific Magazines CEO Gereurd Roberts and Isentia CEO Ed Harrison.

Quaintance, who has previously worked in senior editorial roles at both Bauer and Fairfax, told the audience that the publishing industry is not lacking in opportunities for strong women: “I think of all the leaders I’ve had over time at Bauer and Fairfax, a lot of them have been women with a strong interest in both the commercial and editorial side of the business.”

However, confidence that they meet the criteria for a role is often a stumbling block for women, with Quaintance explaining: “This is a classic thing with female leaders, female executives, is that we don’t tend to apply for the jobs until we’re 100% sure we have the skills.

“It’s statistically proven that men will apply when they have 60% or 70% of the skills, while women will apply when they have 100% and they’re sure they’re going to get it. You have to put yourself forward for opportunities.”

Go agreed, adding: “There’s no point banging your head against a brick wall, or against a ceiling, male or female… there’s no point staying and moaning. You have to take control of your own career. If there’s a job you want, go and have a conversation with your CEO.”

Roberts: ‘It doesn’t matter what I think’

While Pac Mags CEO Gereurd Roberts believes his company is supportive of women, he conceded that if women don’t feel they’re being supported, it “doesn’t matter” what he thinks.

“75% of our workforce is female – the majority of our executive team is female,” he said. “I would like to think that we are supportive of women in the workplace and that they do feel the opportunity to progress.

“But the reality is that it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is how they feel. And if women don’t feel that they’re being supported then we’ve got an issue. If we don’t see it, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

“That’s the greatest risk, is someone saying ‘it didn’t happen to me’. It doesn’t mean it’s not there.”


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